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  • Writer's pictureJulie Erwin

Michael Lewis’ Books About Trading


Michael Lewis is an American author and financial journalist, famous for books such as Moneyball and The Big Short. Who is he and what books has he written about trading?



What is Michael Lewis' background?


Born in New Orleans on 15 October 1960, Michael Lewis went to Princeton University to study art history, and later gained a Master’s at the London School of Economics (LSE). From there he moved to the investment bank Salomon Brothers, where is worked as a bond salesman. It is here that he gained first-hand knowledge of the financial industry, the subject of some of his most famous books.


Michael Lewis author and financial journalist
Michael Lewis © Rex Features via AP Images

After leaving Salomon Brothers, Michael Lewis became a successful writer, receiving the National Book Award, amongst others. He has also worked as a financial journalist, receiving the Gerald Loeb Award for Business Journalism, and has taught financial journalism classes at the University of California, Berkeley.



What books has Michael Lewis written about trading?


Michael Lewis has written a number of books about trading and the financial markets. These include Liar’s Poker, The Big Short, Boomerang, and Flash Boys. Here they are in order of publication, with their full titles:


Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street (1989)


The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010)


Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (2011)


Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (2014)



What is Liar’s Poker about?


Liar's Poker is an unflattering portrayal of Wall Street traders and salesmen in the 1980s. It is an insider's view of the world of investment banking, and is a memoir of Michael Lewis' time working as a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers in the 1980s.


Liar's Poker book cover

In the book, Michael Lewis critiques the culture of greed and excess that characterised the era. Specifically, he details the rise of mortgage bonds and how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cracked down on insider trading at Salomon Brothers, leading to the downfall of the firm's CEO, John Gutfreund.



What is The Big Short about?


The Big Short is a description of the build-up to the US housing bubble of the 2000s, and provides an in-depth account of the activities of the individuals who predicted it and ultimately made a lot of money betting that it would happen.


The Big Short book cover

These individuals were based on real people, some of whom are fictionalised in the book. The Big Short goes into how the bubble developed and explains how various financial instruments allowed traders to profit from the subsequent collapse.



What is Boomerang about?


Boomerang examines the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 on several countries, including Iceland, Greece, and Ireland. Michael Lewis travelled to these countries and interviewed bankers, politicians, and other key players to get a clear insight into the causes and longer-term repercussions of the crisis.


Boomerang book cover

The book argues that the crisis was caused by a combination of factors, including poor regulation, excessive risk-taking by financial institutions and individuals who worked in them, and the ultimate failure of governments to adequately address the problem.



What is Flash Boys about?


Flash Boys investigates the phenomenon of high frequency trading (HFT) in the US financial markets, and explores the various impacts HFT has on the integrity of these markets.


Flash Boys book cover

The book follows several individuals, including former Royal Bank of Canada trader, Brad Katsuyama, and argues that HFT allows traders with advanced technology to gain an unfair advantage over other investors.



What other books has Michael Lewis written?


Michael Lewis has also written books about politics (The Fifth Risk and Losers), Silicon Valley (The New New Thing), baseball (Moneyball and Coach) and American football (The Blind Side).


His latest book, The Premonition, was published in 2021. In it he explores the US’ early response to the COVID-19 pandemic.



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